No One Can Tell Us We’re Wrong: The Perfection of Pat Benatar Summed Up in in 5 Minutes and 18 Seconds by Allan Mott

A group of women; exploited and abused. Forced to monetize their sexuality in order to survive the unforgiving realities of harsh urban life. Among them stands a tiny brunette runaway. Her time in the hall has aged her—she seems like she’s 30, not a teenager forced out into the real world by her intractable father (for reasons unknown). She looks around and sees the environment she works in and deems it unacceptable. She refuses to be pushed around any more. Spurred by the rough actions of their gold-toothed “manager” she snaps and the other girls instantly organize behind her in solidarity.

And. They. Dance.


“Love is a Battlefield” is the greatest music video ever made. Many people—a large majority—may argue otherwise, but they are wrong, no matter how passionately they use such words as “ridiculous”, “dated”, “cheesy” and/or “stupid”. This 5 minute and 18 seconds of artistic excellence is impervious to their criticism for one objective, inarguable reason—Pat Benatar is awesome and anyone who says otherwise is an asshole who doesn’t even deserve to get it.

Few people were actually there to see it, but Pat Benatar cemented her status in pop culture history as the first solo artist to ever appear on MTV. Immediately after the station debuted with The Buggles’ a propos novelty hit, “Video Killed the Radio Star”, Benatar appeared—standing in front of her band in skin tight leather pants and cheeks so covered in rouge it bordered on kabuki-style performance art. She looked directly at us, took our measure and warned—with utter conviction—that we better run. We better hide.

In a world of Blossom and Bubbles-esque pop stars, Benatar was the Buttercup the world so desperately needed. The tiny, dark-haired rock chick whose rarely seen smile was less an invitation than a taunting declaration—is that all you got? Fucker.

But that hardly made her unique. Many other female performers had blazed the badass trail, but unlike Benatar their musical appeal was based on grit and growls. They sang that way because that was the only way they could sing.

Benatar, though, sang that way because she fucking wanted to. On the same album she could go from the kick-your-ass rock of “You Better Run” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” to the angry apocalyptic wail of “Hell is For Children” and still pull off an amazing cover of Kate Bush’s ethereal classic “Wuthering Heights”.

But rather than praise for her obvious talent, many “serious” music fans at the time treated her with disdain and suspicion. For music to have merit, they claimed, it had to be “authentic” and authentic song-craft doesn’t come from trained musicians who have the ability to create any kind of music they please—it comes from damaged souls barely capable of creating breath, much less the messy, ragged tunes they manage to somehow produce.

“Authenticity” is the word the cool kids use to keep everyone else down. It’s specifically designed to keep out those with training and ambition—those who try to use hard work to rise above their station. It insists that everything you do be “real” even though “real” is a concept whose definition changes with every single person on the planet.

Pat Benatar was never “real”—she was awesome, because she wanted to be awesome, which meant that the people who listened to her music could be awesome too, if that’s what they wanted.

And that’s why the video for “Love is a Battlefield” is her crowning, signature achievement. It specifically defies the popular notions of reality and authenticity to create its own world, where its own rules apply and its message is thus—You don’t have to take that shit, if you don’t want to.

Conceived and directed by Bob Giraldi, the video famously revived the archaic practice of taxi dancing when MTV made it clear they wouldn’t air a video about actual prostitution. Rather than hurt the concept, this censorship empowered it. In one of Benatar’s previous songs, she once accused a lover of using “Sex As a Weapon”, but here she turns the tables and uses the skills she picked up from her oppressors to escape from them. It wouldn’t have been the same if she had to fuck her way to freedom.

The video embraces its most ludicrous elements (Benatar’s age, the ridiculous gold toothed “dancehall manager”, that one extra’s tight red shorts) and throws them into the context of the real streets of the city, which we see as she walks and sings her way through them. “Real” and “false” come together, all to serve the same purpose—so that we invest in the journey and celebrate our heroine’s victory, as short lived and bittersweet as it may be.

Played as straight “reality” and it would have been horrific—an urban nightmare of despair and exploitation. But thanks to the false notes found throughout its narrative, it is instead a tale of who we want to be, not who we really are.

And that is important. Those who insist that we only serve the “truth” (as they see it) do so to keep us dancing for dollars one song at a time. The last thing they want is for us to figure out that their “truth” is bullshit and all we have to do to break free is get together.

And. Dance.

Allan Mott was once accused of being a narcissistic goth lesbian by a disgruntled Amazon reviewer. That pretty much sums up his writing career (which includes 12 and 1/2 books and contributions to such sites as XOJane, Canuxploitation, Bookgasm and Flick Attack). His most personal writing can be found at VanityFear.com, where he uses the subject of B-Movies to mostly talk about boobs and stuff.

Comments

  1. edotwoods says:

    HOLY JESUS FUCK I LOVE HER. And it’s true, she had chops for days. Back when I was a little baby slut, Hit Me With Your Best Shot was the anthem of me and my girls. We actually notched our lipstick cases.

    • “Little Baby Sluts” is the best show Nickelodeon never made.

      • Dear Sarah,I was touched by this post. A new baby is wfdrenoul news! God bless you and give you much grace for your pregnancy, and shower you with wisdom and His love for raising these precious little people for Him.I’m a stay-home, homeschooling mom with four children and the youngest has HLHS and is three months younger than Bowen. I appreciate your blog and it was especially helpful the first several months after Grant was born, giving me an idea of what to expect. Thank you so much!I definitely sympathize with your feelings about the organizational skills! I have the same problem plus terrible time management! It’s something I’ve asked God to help me with countless times, but am learning that if I give my life and time to Him and do the best I can without fretting (too much!), He does a much better job of managing my life than I do. It’s amazing how He works things into and out of my schedule as needed! With my oldest daughter at twelve years, I increasingly see the importance of spending lots and lots of time with the children, and do not regret a moment I sacrificed for them. However it IS a constant challenge to juggle the household and school duties with fun times and personal moments with each one.:) But I LOVE my job and consider it to be one of the most influential and fulfilling careers possible!From my heart,Christina

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  2. This is pretty damn great.

    • Thanks Bianca!

      • BTW, when I lived in Japan my friend Melissa and I composed a full-length NSFW parody of this song entitled “Love is a Bonerfest” that we would perform at karaoke. Enjoy:

        Chorus:
        We are hung, boner to boner we stand
        no promises, no demands
        love is a bonerfest
        we are strong, no one can tell us we’re wrong
        stroking our cocks for so long
        both of us knowing….love is a bonerfest

        You’re making me hard, then making me come,
        why does my ass hurt so bad?
        it would help me to know, am I a good lay
        or the best fuck you’ve ever had?
        believe me, believe me I can’t tell you why
        but I’m humping your leg and I want you inside

        Chorus

        When I’m losing my wood, will you give me a hand
        or finger me deep inside
        and if it hurts to sit down, will you help me to stand?
        on my fat cock you can ride
        but if we get much closer I could lose control
        and if you’re ass surrenders I’ll stretch out your hole

        Chorus

        Chorus

    • Thank you Dana !I’m humbled by such love and fahlifutness .It has been such an encouragement to Graeme to know people (he doesn’t even know) across the ocean have been praying for him. We’re British, so it’s not that we have family in the States.I’m definately going to remind him of this in the morning.;) (Midnight here!)How special for so many lives to touch each other since Bowen was born. How many times we’ve agreed in our requests for healing for Bowen and each other. Awsome !!!Lots of loveIsobel

  3. BRILLIANT ARTICLE, thank you!! Not to mention that LIAB was the first music video to contain spoken dialogue.

  4. Allan: I WANT that purple jumpsuit for my birthday! Benatar was the underrated rock goddess of the 80’s eclipsed by lesser talents like Madonna and Cindy Lauper.

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